6 Top Hiking Trails in Ireland in 2024

Explore The Six Best Hiking Trails Ireland Has To Offer


Ireland is a country of astounding natural beauty, where rolling green hills meet rugged coastlines and ancient history is etched into the landscape. For walking and hiking, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland offer a treasure trove of trails that traverse some of the country’s most scenic and untouched parts.

These Hiking Trails in Ireland are not just pathways through nature but also gateways to explore Ireland’s rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and vibrant local communities.

a group of people walking on Hiking Trails Ireland
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The best hikes in Ireland allow you to immerse yourself in its landscapes, from the misty peaks of the Mourne Mountains to the serene waters of the Barrow River. Whether you are an experienced trekker looking for a challenging hike or a casual walker seeking a stroll, Ireland’s hiking trails cater to all levels of expertise.

This article will guide you through some of the most popular hiking trails in Ireland, reveal hidden gems off the beaten path, and provide practical tips to help you plan and enjoy your hiking adventures.

Top 6 Hiking Trails in Ireland

TrailCountiesHighlights
Wicklow WayWicklow, Dublin, Carlow– Stunning views of mountains and valleys
– Glendalough monastic site
– Lush forests and sparkling lakes
Barrow WayKildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois– Scenic riverside paths
– Picturesque villages
– Historic towns
Moyle Way and Causeway CoastAntrim– Giant’s Causeway UNESCO site
– Dramatic coastal scenery
– Antrim Glens
Cooley and Mourne WayLouth, Down– Slieve Gullion summit
– Mourne Mountains
– Carlingford Lough views
Dingle PeninsulaKerry– Stunning coastal views
– Ancient sites and ruins
– Gaelic-speaking villages
Kerry WayKerry– Ring of Kerry landscapes
– Killarney National Park
– Lakes, mountains, and gardens

1) The Wicklow Way Hiking Trail

The Wicklow Way is one of Ireland’s most famous long-distance hiking trails, stretching approximately 131 kilometres (81 miles) from the outskirts of Dublin to the small town of Clonegal in County Carlow. The trail is moderately challenging, making it suitable for both experienced hikers and those with a reasonable level of fitness. The Wicklow Way can be completed in about 7-10 days, depending on your pace and the amount of time you spend exploring the many sights along the way.

Highlights Along the Trail
One of the key highlights of the Wicklow Way is Glendalough, a glacial valley renowned for its early medieval monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. The ruins, including a round tower and several churches, are set against a backdrop of stunning lakes and forested hillsides, offering both historical intrigue and natural beauty.

Powerscourt Waterfall seen from the Wicklow Way Hiking Trail
Gfox228, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another must-see is Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland, standing at 121 meters (397 feet). This majestic waterfall is located in the Powerscourt Estate, which also features beautifully landscaped gardens and a grand mansion.

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2) The Kerry Way On The Wild Atlantic Way

The Kerry Way is one of the longest signposted walking trails in Ireland, covering a distance of about 214 kilometres (133 miles). This circular trail starts and ends in the bustling town of Killarney, taking you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in County Kerry. The Kerry Way is moderately difficult, with varying terrain that includes mountain paths, forest trails, and country roads. It typically takes 8-10 days to complete.

Scenic Spots and Cultural Landmarks
Killarney National Park is a highlight of the Kerry Way, offering a diverse range of landscapes, including lush woodlands, serene lakes, and rugged mountains. Within the park, you’ll find the stunning Muckross House, a 19th-century Victorian mansion set amidst beautiful gardens. The house and its grounds provide a glimpse into Ireland’s aristocratic past.

Another scenic spot along the Kerry Way is the Black Valley, known for its remote beauty and tranquil atmosphere. This secluded area is one of the last places in Ireland to be connected to the electricity grid, which adds to its timeless charm.

3) The Dingle Peninsula Hiking Trail

The Dingle Peninsula offers a variety of hiking options, ranging from short walks to longer, more challenging treks. The Dingle Way, a circular trail of approximately 179 kilometres (111 miles), is a popular choice for those looking to explore the peninsula’s diverse landscapes. The trail is considered moderate in difficulty and can be completed in about 8-9 days.

Unique Features
One of the unique features of the Dingle Peninsula is its breathtaking coastal views. As you hike along the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, rugged cliffs, and sandy beaches. The Slea Head Drive, part of the Dingle Way, offers some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in Ireland.

Annascaul, Dingle Peninsula
Annascaul Walks. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan

The Following Hiking Trails Are Real Hidden Gems

4) The Barrow River Way Trail

The Barrow River Way is a lesser-known but equally captivating trail that follows the course of the River Barrow from Robertstown in County Kildare to St. Mullins in County Carlow. Spanning approximately 120 kilometres (75 miles), this trail is relatively flat and suitable for hikers of all levels. The tranquil river views and the opportunity to explore charming historic towns along the way make this trail a hidden gem.

Clashganny Lock River Barrow Co Carlow Web Size 1536x1025 1
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One of the key attractions along the Barrow River Way is the town of Graiguenamanagh, home to the historic Duiske Abbey. This Cistercian monastery, founded in 1204, features beautiful Gothic architecture and provides a serene spot for reflection.

5) Cooley and Mourne Mountains

The Cooley and Mourne Mountains offer some of the most rugged and panoramic hiking experiences in Ireland. The Cooley Peninsula, located in County Louth, features the Táin Way, a circular trail of about 40 kilometres (25 miles) that can be completed in 2-3 days. This trail takes you through the mythical landscapes of the Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), an ancient Irish epic.

The Mourne Mountains, located in County Down, are renowned for their dramatic peaks and stunning views. The Mourne Wall, a 35-kilometre (22-mile) dry-stone wall that traverses 15 summits, is a popular route for more experienced hikers. Key attractions in the Mourne Mountains include Slieve Donard, the highest peak in Northern Ireland, and Silent Valley Reservoir, a picturesque spot surrounded by mountains.

6) Glens of Antrim and Causeway Coast

The Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast offer a diverse range of hiking opportunities, from coastal walks to forested glens. The Causeway Coast Way, a 51-kilometer (32-mile) trail, takes you from the town of Ballycastle to the famous Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its unique hexagonal basalt columns.

Giant Causeway, Antrim, Giant Causeway Hiking Tours
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The Glens of Antrim, a series of nine picturesque valleys, provide a more secluded hiking experience. Each glen has its own unique character and attractions, such as Glenariff Forest Park, known as the “Queen of the Glens,” with its scenic waterfalls and lush woodlands.


Planning Your Hike on Ireland’s Hiking Trails

Best Times to Hike in Ireland

Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, but certain times of the year are generally more favorable for hiking. The best time to hike in Ireland is during the late spring (May and June) and early autumn (September and October). During these months, the weather is usually mild, and the landscapes are vibrant with blooming flowers or autumnal colours. Summer (July and August) is also a good time to hike but be prepared for more tourists and potentially wetter conditions.

Essential Gear and Preparation

When preparing for a hike in Ireland, it’s important to pack appropriately to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here’s a list of essential gear to consider:

  • Sturdy Hiking Boots: Waterproof and with good ankle support.
  • Clothing: Layered clothing to adapt to changing weather conditions, including a waterproof jacket and breathable base layers.
  • Backpack: Comfortable and spacious enough to carry water, snacks, and extra clothing.
  • Navigation Tools: Maps, compass, or a GPS device.
  • First Aid Kit: Basic supplies for treating blisters, cuts, and other minor injuries.
  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up with easy-to-carry snacks.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, even on cloudy days.
  • Emergency Supplies: Whistle, flashlight, and a fully charged mobile phone.

Accommodation and Amenities

Ireland offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. Along the hiking trails, you’ll find everything from cosy B&Bs and hostels to campsites and guesthouses. Many trails pass through small towns and villages where you can rest, resupply, and enjoy local hospitality.

Food and rest stops are typically available in these towns, with local pubs and cafes offering hearty meals and refreshments. It’s always a good idea to plan your accommodation, especially during peak hiking seasons.

Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Hike

Hiking in Ireland can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to stay safe on the trails. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay on Marked Trails: Stick to the designated paths to avoid getting lost and to protect the environment.
  • Check the Weather Forecast: Weather conditions can change rapidly, so always check the forecast before heading out and be prepared for rain or fog.
  • Hike with a Buddy: If possible, hike with a companion, especially on remote trails.
  • Inform Someone of Your Plans: Let someone know your hiking route and expected return time.
  • Carry a First Aid Kit: Be prepared to handle minor injuries and know basic first aid.
  • Know Emergency Contacts: Familiarize yourself with local emergency numbers and the nearest medical facilities.

Respecting Nature

Ireland’s natural landscapes are delicate and should be treated with respect to preserve their beauty for future generations. Follow these principles to minimize your impact:

  • Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash, avoid picking plants, and leave natural objects where you find them.
  • Stay on Trails: To prevent damaging vegetation and disturbing wildlife, always stick to marked paths.
  • Respect Wildlife: Observe animals from a distance and do not feed them. Be mindful of nesting birds and other sensitive wildlife.
  • To minimize Campfire Impact, Use a stove for cooking and only build fires in designated areas. Ensure fires are completely extinguished before leaving.

Local Culture and Etiquette

Part of the charm of hiking in Ireland is the opportunity to interact with local communities and experience their culture. Here are some tips to ensure you are a respectful visitor:

  • Interact with Locals: Irish people are known for their friendliness. Engage in conversations, ask for recommendations, and show appreciation for their hospitality.
  • Respect Private Property: Some trails may pass through private land. Always close gates behind you and avoid disturbing livestock.
  • Cultural Landmarks: Many trails pass by historical sites and cultural landmarks. Show respect by not climbing on ruins, removing rubbish, or vandalizing any part of the heritage sites.
  • Local Customs: Be aware of local customs and traditions, especially in rural areas. For example, when entering a pub, it is customary to greet the bartender and locals.

Conclusion

Ireland’s hiking trails offer a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the well-trodden paths of the Wicklow Way and Kerry Way to the hidden gems of the Barrow River Way and the Cooley and Mourne Mountains, there is something for every type of hiker. The trails not only provide an opportunity to connect with nature but also to delve into the heart of Ireland’s cultural and historical heritage.

Whether you explore the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Causeway Coast or wander through the serene valleys of the Glens of Antrim, each hike promises a memorable adventure. With proper planning, essential gear, and respect for the environment and local communities, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and set out to discover the breathtaking landscapes and warm hospitality that Ireland has to offer. And don’t forget to share your hiking experiences and tips in the comments below!


  1. Solo Inn-to-Inn Hiking in Ireland
  2. The Wicklow Way: A Comprehensive Guide
  3. Exploring the Antrim Glens and Causeway Coast
  4. The Barrow River Way: A Tranquil Hike Through History
  5. Hiking the Cooley and Mourne Mountains
  6. Discover the Giant’s Causeway and Glens of Antrim
  7. The Barrow Way: A Detailed Guide
  8. Self-Guided Walking Tours in Ireland
  9. Guided Walking Holidays in Ireland
  10. 5-Day Hiking Tour of Wicklow
  11. Barrow River 5-Day Walking Tour
  12. Giant’s Causeway 8-Day Walking Tour

Embark on your Irish hiking adventure today and uncover the magic of Ireland’s trails!

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